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Afghanistan’s Base Bonanza

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Posted on Sep 4, 2012
The U.S. Army (CC BY 2.0)

Sunrise over an American base in Afghanistan.

By Nick Turse, TomDispatch

(Page 3)

Of those 505 U.S. bases in Iraq, some today have been stripped clean by Iraqis, others have become ghost towns.  One former prison base—Camp Bucca—became a hotel, and another former American post is now a base for some members of an Iranian “terrorist” group.  It wasn’t supposed to end this way.  But while a token number of U.S. troops and a highly militarized State Department contingent remain in Baghdad, the Iraqi government thwarted American dreams of keeping long-term garrisons in the center of the Middle East’s oil heartlands.

Clearly, U.S. planners are having similar dreams about the long-term garrisoning of Afghanistan.  Whether the fate of those Afghan bases will be similar to Iraq’s remains unknown, but with as many as 550 of them still there—and up to 1,500 installations when you count assorted ammunition storage facilities, barracks, equipment depots, checkpoints, and training centers—it’s clear that the U.S. military and its partners are continuing to build with an eye to an enduring military presence. 

Whatever the outcome, vestiges of the current base-building boom will endure and become part of America’s Afghan legacy.  What that will ultimately mean in terms of blood, treasure, and possibly blowback remains to be seen.  

Nick Turse is the associate editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and regularly at TomDispatch. He is the author/editor of several books, including the recently published Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 (with Tom Engelhardt).  This piece is the latest article in his series on the changing face of American empire, which is being underwritten by Lannan Foundation.  You can follow him on Tumblr.

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